Wednesday, November 1, 2017

LORD, Clamp Your Hand Over My Mouth!


Dear Friends,

I love history, so when I was younger, antique stores would fascinate me. I loved looking at all the strange, old, sometimes unrecognizable things that I could imagine my grandparents using. Today, antique stores are a little discomforting. I see the toys and games I played with as a child. I see ancient kitchen implements that people point to and wonder about and I remember that I’ve got one in a drawer and I’m still using it. Old records from the sixties are on display. I have a closet full of them. That vintage fedora hat from the 50's? I’m wearing one. Walking into an antique store today is like walking into my own personal museum and it makes me feel.. well.. like an antique.

But last week I ventured into an antique store and immediately saw this sign (pictured above) that made me both smile and cringe. Because it reminded me of someone that I know. Me.

Lord, forgive me for the times I have spoken when I should have been silent. When my words of frustration, anger, impatience, unkindness were hurtful to others. When my words were not a blessing but a curse. When careless words closed down the spirit of a loved one. Lord, forgive me.

Scripture is edifying, encouraging and comforting. And sometimes the comfort it offers comes from knowing that we’re not alone in our struggles to seek the righteousness of God. Matt 6:33 David struggled with his words and knew the importance of praying that God would help him control his mouth. “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3

A few days ago a friend of mine said that while she had been praying for me, Deuteronomy 3:19 came to her mind. “..I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life..” This literally refers to the Israelite's life or death choice to either worship God or worship other gods. But it metaphorically refers to every one of the choices that you and I make every day – the things we do.. the words we say. Our words of blessing bring life. And our words of cursing – hurtful words of condemnation and negativity – bring death.

Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” The brother of Jesus tells us: “But no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” James 3:8-10 NLT

With our mouth we can speak blessings or curses. It’s God's desire that we bestow blessings on others, it’s our human nature to bestow curses. Think about a typical day and count how many times you spoke sincere words of God's blessing to another. Now count the times you spoke complaints, negativity, gossip or criticisms to others.

James said that no one can tame the tongue. That means that you can’t. But God can. Jesus said “for with God all things are possible." Mark 10:27

We need to submit our unruly tongue to the Holy Spirit daily. Every morning our prayer should be: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

And if, like David, we have prayed for the Lord to set a guard over our mouth, we then need to listen for His direction during our day. You’ve heard people say, “think before you speak” but it may be even more important to “listen before you speak.” Everything I have ever said that I later regretted was because I spoke without first listening to the Holy Spirit. If, in the heat of the moment, we can shut our mouth and give our self a verbal timeout, God will always show us how to say something in a Christ-like manner or tell us not to say it at all.

Lord, clamp Your hand over my mouth when I’m tempted to speak words of anger, unkindness or negativity. Let me choose words that speak life and not death. Let no unwholesome word proceed forth from my lips, O Lord, and may all the words of my mouth be pleasing to Your ears. Amen.

From the AMEN Corner archives. Originally published 2014.

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The AMEN Corner is a weekly devotional for the family and friends of New Hope Family Church. It is intended for this devotional to be strengthening, encouraging or comforting and your comments too should be for the glory of God and reflect the intended purpose of these posts.

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